Archive for October 31st, 2012


I registered for my next semester of courses for the MFA this morning. One term in, I’m starting to get a feel for the flow of the curriculum design as a Low-Residency program. The course runs three years which is one year longer than the average. For most of those three years, students register for around 10 credit hours. Three of those are the accounting for the Residency week. Five of those cover the “Term Writing Project.” Any remaining hours go towards the “Academic” classes (RIG courses are 2 hours, but others may be 3… haven’t spent that much time looking at that level).

The encouraged progression of classes involves the three RIG classes being taken over the first terms. I thought about challenging that, and taking something else, when it hit me. The first part of the program is best served by actually writing the novel [the most intense part of the process], and reading a lot should help with balancing (nay, even contribute to) the writing process. Then, when the more challenging academic classes start hitting, the student should be getting into the revision stages.

Granted, revisions are no¬†cakewalk themselves, but as the addage goes it’s easier to fix what’s on the paper when there’s actually words on the page and not blank.

So, for anyone else that’s looking into the program, there’s a hint as to the structure you can expect during registration.

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On the Subject of Reading Lists… Take 1

As part of the MFA at Seton Hill, students are required to take three semesters of “Reading In Genre” – RIG for short. Part of the purpose here is for the student to acquaint themselves with the conventions of their preferred genre over the three course cycle. Cycle? Yes… The idea behind the cycle is that each track is broken into three approaches to the readings (SF/Fantasy – Current works, Classic SF, and Classic Fantasy; Mysteries – Subgenres, Classic, and Contemporary, etc.). Students are encouraged over the course of their time to take courses across multiple genres, or take additional RIG sections, should they be so inclined.

I tell you that to tell you this. If you would like to know what some of the selected readings might be like for the program, here is the list of readings for four of the five genres. (Sadly, either no one in my group took the YA RIG this semester, or they just didn’t provide the reading list when we discussed the classes over the summer.)

As the title suggests, this will be the first of three posts. The other two will come at future dates, as I undertake my other two RIG courses.

Contemporary SF/Fantasy
A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
Leviathan Wakes – James S. A. Corey
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – N. K. Jemisen
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti – Genevieve Valentine
Railsea – China Mieville
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Romance (Subgenres)
Never Romance a Rake – Liz Carlyle
Risky Engagement – Merline Lovelace
Jinx – Meg Cabot
I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella
Critical Impact – Isable Cooper
With Just One Kiss – Francis Ray
Horror (Psychos)
Psycho: A Novel – Robert Bloch
The Church of Dead Girls – Stephen Dobyns
Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
Misery – Stephen King
The Sculptor – Gregory Funaro
Joyride – Jack Ketchum
Batman: The Killing Joke – Alan Moore (Graphic Novel)
Seven – Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey
The Silence of the Lambs – Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins
Howdunit: How Crimes are Committed and Solved – John Boertlein, Ed
Mysteries: Subgenres
The Last Dance – Ed McBain (police procedural)
Final Jeopardy – Linda Fairstein (legal)
High-Wire Act – Franklin W. Dixon (young adult)
One for the Money – Janet Evanovich (crime humor)
Little Scarlet – Walter Mosley (P.I.)
Thief of Hearts – Tess Gerritsen (romance)
North of Montana – April Smith (FBI agent)
Writing Mysteries (selections): a Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America, edited by Sue Grafton

For this round, I had the Mystery course… at the moment, I am in line for the Classic Fantasy track (with Horror as my second option). I’ll let you know how that works out.

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